Summer day hike in Mount Rainier National Park

Summer day hike in Mount Rainier National Park

We needed adventure, so to the mountain we went! I love Mount Rainier because there are so many possibilities for hiking and scenery. We started driving, and hoped the clouds would clear by the time we arrived. Thankfully, once we drove up to the gate (and used our pass to get through the long line), the clouds had dispersed. We drove up to Paradise and luckily found a parking spot. From there we decided on the popular Skyline trail and started walking.

From the Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

At the beginning of the trail there were many people out and about enjoying the summer weather. Once we got past Myrtle Falls however, the trail significantly thinned and the walking was much easier.

It doesn’t matter what side or direction you’re looking, Mount Rainier National Park is simply gorgeous!

We went through several forks in the road, deciding which way to go on a whim (note: please please always have a map and understand your own physical and time limits). We chose to descend to Reflection Lake using Lake Trail. The view was amazing, and the lake was glimmering! From there we had to get back to Paradise, and that involved a steep hike. However, it was worth the climb because of this gushing creek and waterfall along the way. As the sun got lower the bugs came out and we hustled our way back to the car. As always, Mount Rainier did not disappoint!

If you’re interested in learning more, Washington Trails Association is a great resource.

From Lake Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, and Lake Crescent

Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, and Lake Crescent

To celebrate an occasion my husband and I traveled past Port Townsend to Lake Crescent and set up camp. The campground itself is a lot of fun and comes with running water, bathrooms, established fire pits, dogs allowed, and an area to get your kayak in the water! We absolutely loved camping here. Lake Crescent is beautifully opaque at both sunrise and sunset with vivid colors throughout the day.

We took the quick drive up to see Sol Duc and hiked the short trail leading directly to the falls. The Sol Duc Falls are absolutely stunning! There were several people there, and a couple even decided to skip onto the middle rock to get pictures. Please don’t do that. A week later someone fell from there, went over two falls, and had to be rescued at the bottom of a cliff by search and rescue. The falls were constantly changing in the light because of all the tree coverage and the spray made it somewhat difficult to get a decent shot without getting my camera wet as well. I also wish my tripod was about six inches taller! But I would love to come back to these falls, considering they were so easy to get to and deliver many photographic opportunities.

On the way home we stopped at Marymere Falls. Storm King Ranger Station is on the bank of Lake Crescent and the trail to Marymere Falls begins there. A flat hike, we made good time and made the short incline to the falls. They don’t impress as much as Sol Duc, but the hike is serene and gentle and would make for a good stroll and picnic at the falls. There is a higher vantage point but of the two the lower is more conducive to a good waterfall shot.

I highly recommend a trip with these destinations. If we had more time we could have easily gone to the coast, Neah Bay and Rialto Beach. Next trip up there I want to spend some time at Hurricane Ridge!


Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2016

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2016

Tulip Town and Roozengaarde Gardens

For Easter Sunday we drove up to Mount Vernon, Washington in Skagit county to see the annual Tulip Festival. It was a little early so some of the tulips were not blooming yet, but it’s hard to say we missed out. The weather in the South Sound was gorgeous, but of course once we drove up I-5 through Seattle and past Marysville the weather deteriorated into a cold rain shower. It still being lunch time we stopped and enjoyed some delicious pizza at Skagit River Brewery.

Fortunately during the time it took for us to eat the rain stopped and the sun came out! We got in the car and followed the signs to the tulip fields. We discovered Tulip Town first, and enjoyed the many rows of tulips in their fields. We are no strangers to the Tulip Festival, however we had never been to Tulip Town and it was a nice change to see more established buildings and more offerings from vendors. No pets allowed but very kid friendly. Here we bought our yearly potted tulips, this year they are a gorgeous pink frilly variety. I get new ones each year to add to our garden.

The arrangement and variety of tulips at Roozengaarde however, is unparalleled. We headed there next and were able to get in right away because of only a small crowd of people. We took our time, enjoyed some fudge, and took advantage of the moody skies effect on the colorful tulips. Eventually we got too cold and as the rain started to fall again we headed home. We have gone every year for several years now and each experience is different. I hope you’re able to make it there this spring! If not, here are some of the images I was able to capture. Enjoy!

(Click the photos to see them larger)

Sunny March Days in the Pacific Northwest

Sunny March Days in the Pacific Northwest

Mount Rainier and the Olympics during a few days of beautiful March weather in the PNW

Thankfully, my new lens came in the mail not long before the weather decided to let the mountains shine! I took full advantage of these two days and got to know my new 55-210mm lens for the Sony A6000. I shouldn’t have waited so long to upgrade from the kit lens! I know a lot of these Sonys came with the zoom lens but mine did not and boy was I missing out! Check out what a combination of beautiful weather and zoom can produce:

Cherry Blossoms and Olympics

I couldn’t decide between these two which worked better.

Cherry Blossoms and Olympics in focus

It is difficult to choose my favorite from these shots. I think they work well together rather than by themselves. This last one, however, stands out simply because Mount Rainier is absolutely amazing on its own. I have a few shots from this location and I love that whenever I come back the scene is different. When I first arrived I noticed the sail boat was further off and heading in the opposite direction. But as I waited for the light to change and the clouds to shift it turned around and headed straight across the mountain! Just proves that sometimes a better shot is worth waiting for.

So there you have it! I am thankful I was able to basically take two days off and spend them outside. This pacific northwest weather can be finicky, especially in the spring! We have to take advantage of the weather when we can.

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